Justin Meram vs toronto
Alena Schuckmann / Columbus Crew SC

POST-MATCH QUOTES: #CLBvTOR

Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

On his team’s difficulty breaking down Toronto FC’s defense...

" The way I saw the game was: we kept pushing, we didn’t give up, we kept trying to create goal-scoring opportunities. In fact, in the last ten minutes, we probably had our best chances of the match. So, I wouldn’t say that we got frustrated." 

On his team not scoring a goal...

" In the first half they played well. We had to make an adjustment at halftime to get more pressure on the ball. I think [Toronto FC] did a good job in the first half. What I would say is that there were a couple of acceptable results that we’d live with and this was one of them, 0-0 was one of the results that we could live with. As the game went on, you saw how strong we were and how fit we were. That’s going to bode well in the second leg; we have a really fit team in here and we can keep going and keep pushing like you saw in Atlanta."  

On his team’s tactics...

" We planned for them to play five in the back, so now it’s adjusting pre-game on how we can hurt them still with their new formation. What they were doing in their buildup from midfield was causing us problems. So, we made some adjustments and we were able to get much better pressure on the ball in the second half, which led to us being more aggressive. The second half was good. Overall, it was a good game. I think it was a tactical game, I think it was a difficult match. It was a typical game where it’s going to be decided by something small. You see that a lot in semi-finals and first legs and that was the case tonight." 

On his team’s aggression against Toronto FC...

" I think the intentions were to be aggressive. We should some aggressive movements, almost too aggressive to me, because we kept on trying to play behind them really early instead of keeping the ball and making them work a little bit more. You could see possession in the first half, they out–possessed us in the first half and that gave us some imbalance. We had to make adjustments there. We were trying to get forward; we had some decent moves in the first half as well. I just think [Toronto FC] did a good job; they are a good team." 

On electing to use one substitute...

" Who was I going to sub? I was just thinking about that: who was playing that bad? I didn’t see another adjustment to be made. In fact, again, when you look at the last ten minutes of the game, that’s when we created our best chances. You don’t always have to sub for subbing’s sake. To me, things were fine. I think we were more likely to get the goal then [Toronto FC] in the last 10 minutes of the game." 

On his team’s final 10 minutes...

" A lot of it had to with our strength. We’re a very fit team and towards the end of the game we get stronger. That carried on and you saw that. They made a couple of subs due to fatigue and we were able to keep going. That’s going to be important in the second league because it is going to be a difficult second leg." 

On losing Artur for Leg 2 to yellow card accumulation...

" We’ll miss him, there’s no question. He’s quality and covers a lot of ground. The good thing about the way it turns out is Mohammed [Abu] has played lately. He’s done a good job, he did a good job in New York and we expect him to do a good job again if his number is called." 

On Federico Higuain dropping deeper later in the match...

" We figured that Federico [Higuain] was drawing attention from [Michael Bradley], so dropping Federico deeper would pull Michael out of position and we can take advantage of that with other people. That’s what we tried." 

On taking off Pedro Santos...

" Something happened to his ankle, a little pinch or something like that. It was injury based." 

On what his team can take away from this match...

" Again, it was one of the acceptable results, a result that we can live with. If we score a goal in Toronto, the complexion of the whole series is going to change. That’s going to be our focus. We are not going to play the 4-1-4-1, no chance." 

On the crowd at MAPFRE Stadium...

" The crowd was great today. They were behind us. There were a couple of exciting moves in the first half and it was really difficult to breakthrough Toronto and get that goal that was going to really set the crowd into a frenzy. We don’t like getting shutout at home, we are not proud of that. But, overall, it was a decent match." 

On being shutout in three out of the last four matches...

" We’re relatively happy with the chances that we’ve been creating. In the Atlanta game, we obviously had a goal called back that shouldn’t have been. New York City at home, we created four goals and we could have scored another two or three. Away, we had a couple of chances late in the game, today again a couple of chances. It’s tight. You guys are calling [Toronto FC] the best team in the history of MLS, and how many shots on goal do they have in the whole playoffs so far? That’s the nature of the playoffs, and they are smart enough to realize that and not get down about it. They just keep going. To me, it’s just about advancing and hosting MLS Cup Final." 

On Jukka Raitala returning to the starting lineup...

" Based on how we thought they were going to play, we thought he could hurt them as left-back. That was the decision." 

On Leg 2 against Toronto FC...

" Our objective will be to go out and score a goal. That will be clear. We had the same objective against [New York City FC], but they had a really good game, and it was difficult to achieve that. We’ll have the intentions to score and be aggressive." 

Defender Josh Williams

On the crowd at tonight’s match...

" I had so much fun playing in front of them; it was amazing. The turn out and the numbers they did on a cold night, I heard them the whole game. A lot of times when I’m playing I don’t really hear the crowd, but they were electrifying. They carry us through and it was amazing to see that." 

On Toronto switching it up throughout the game...

" When I was on the ball I felt it, it was tough to keep people out when they’ve got ten guys behind you, and [Tosaint] Ricketts kind of floating around up there. But offensively, no I didn’t think they threw much at us that we weren’t really expecting. It was on the defensive side that I thought they did a good job." 

On his thoughts of tonight’s match...

" Obviously at home you want to put one or two in to take a little bit of the pressure off going to Toronto. We put up a zero on the board. I thought Jonathan [Mensah] was a piece tonight. On the defensive side of the ball I thought we were animals attacking the ball. Guys running back, hawking guys down, little deflections here and there. I thought we were solid on that side of the ball, we were just unlucky on the offensive side of the ball. But overall, we talked about 0-0 at the end of the day was an acceptable result." 

On keeping Toronto scoreless...

" Obviously whenever you’re in the Eastern Conference [Championship] and you can put a zero on the board you’re going to be happy about it. But it’s only half time. So we’ve got another 90 minutes and they’re going to get Josie Jozy [Altidore] back and Seba [Giovinco] back and that’s going to add that two headed monster up top so you know we’ve got to be focused. But we’ve gone on the road before and got a result so this isn’t something that’s new to us." 

Midfielder Justin Meram

On the crowd noise at tonight’s match...

" Amazing. It was electric. They were great from warmups. It was awesome to see." 

On Toronto FC changing formations throughout the game...

" The first half, we didn’t adjust accordingly but the second half we came in had a game plan and executed pretty well and had some chances." 

On the scoreless draw...

" It’s not the worst result. Obviously, we have to go into their house and score. It can happen, we can put one in the net on the road and put their backs against the wall." 

On what changes need to be made for the second leg...

" Not a lot of changes need to be made. I thought we played pretty well defensively and I don’t think they had much. If we continue to do well defensively, our offense will be ready. There is not many games where we get shutout." 

On preparing for the return of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco...

" We played against both of them here, they are good players but they’ll make something different. High presses as well as Victor [Vazquez] and Tosaint [Ricketts] up top, but offensively they are special and will bring something different." 

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